The opening song on A Sound of Thunder’s sixth full-length It Was Metal, “Phantom Flight,” features Accept’s Mark Tornillo on guest vocals. He’s not the first high profile guest they’ve ever had, but considering how past cameos were often used at later points on their respective albums, featuring him on the very first song is somewhat risky. Whether intentional or not, it sets a precedent for It Was Metal to maintain a casual listener’s interest purely on the band’s own merits.
With that in mind, it’s a pleasure to say that this is A Sound of Thunder’s best album since 2013’s Time’s Arrow. Their hard rock-tinged power metal template is about the same as usual, but it’s hard to remember the last time it sounded this lively. It’s a very energetic album as the faster songs are at their most driving while the mid-tempo tracks offer plenty of impactful hits.
The band’s penchant for grandiosity is also displayed throughout. It Was Metal isn’t a concept album, but every song has a self-contained narrative with its own set of stylistic motifs to match. Moments like the Robert Johnson-isms on “The Crossroads Deal” transitioning to the congratulatory title track are cheesy on paper and maybe even in execution for some, but the band is clearly having fun with the widespread stories on display.
All these references to the band’s strength are likely sounding redundant but their talents on this album and others really can’t be overstated. Those already acquainted with A Sound of Thunder know how intense the vocals can get, but the other musicians get plenty of chances to shine. The guitars are consistently beefy, the bass provides stirring foundations on songs like “Altacatl” and “Charles II,” the drums are as hard hitting as they are intricate, and the keyboards help provide many of the songs’ individual soundscapes.
Overall, It Was Metal is business as usual for A Sound of Thunder but putting more oomph into their theatrics results in one of their most satisfying efforts to date. The song variety may be a little too intense and the band probably went a little overboard on some of the concepts, but power metal fans wouldn’t expect anything less from one of the genre’s leading merchants. Fans of Accept, Queensrÿche, and other 80s metal icons are way overdue in checking out A Sound of Thunder if they haven’t already done so.
“It Was Metal”
“Els Segadors (The Reapers)”